There was a spring in my step as I gently walked into a nice pub and restaurant near Grand Central Station. I had the kind of energy in my movement that a person gets when they are happy to be on the road; light and stealthy. It was early in the afternoon, I was the only patron in the place, and I put my bag down on a stool and sat myself next to it. There was an hour to kill on my layover; before my next train left the station.
It was the kind of place that knew its customers well. So, in the middle of a work day, even though the place was empty, the business news channels were on the TV’s behind the bar; scrolling numbers and symbols going across the screen underneath the muted talking heads. I ordered a beer and some minutes quietly passed as I watched the everyday people quickly move across the window on the noisy street outside, enjoying the juxtaposition to the slowly moving bartender, in his rolled sleeves and long apron, peacefully slicing limes for the coming rush hour.
In an instant, the front door is flung open and a wall of sound and energy crashed into the place like water flooding a canal just after a dam is released. The bartender looked up from his little cutting board with contempt at the intrusion. His face clearly showing that the wave of water was too early.
It was a middle aged business man walking with the high energy of someone who left work early out of righteous frustration. He approached the bar and says “Hi Ernie. How are you doing today?” The bartender was already into the ritual of a vodka tonic and only nodded a response to the question; stubbornly refusing to be pulled out of his peaceful meditation. The businessman sat in the stool right next to me and put his battered briefcase on the stool next to him. The man continued, “What a day! I tell you what. Nothing but morons out there. I figured it best to go home before I did something stupid.” Ernie put the drink in front of the businessman and went back to his cutting board. But, before he could get there the businessman asked, “Could you turn the volume up on CNBC?” Ernie hesitated for a fraction of a second, and anyone paying attention would have seen a flash of light in his eyes that spoke of an angry dragon spitting out a torrent of fire deep inside of him. But, he exhaled and lowered his eyes in submission, then grabbed the remote that turned his temple into a prison.
As the volume went up on the television, the businessman took out his smart-phone and started to check messages. His attention was divided between the phone and the television. Then, as though I just appeared in the stool next to him, he noticed me and said nodding his head towards the TV, which was doing a story on the presidential campaign and how it related to business, “Can you believe these idiots?” He turns his attention to me fully, “I mean, it stuns me that people expect only lawyers to run this country. I have to deal with this every day. All lawyers know how to do is parse language and keep track of time,.. and yet, we expect them to make decisions on everything from finance and business, to marriage and child birth, and foreign relations and cultural structure. It is just nuts.” I stifled a snide question about which lawyer he voted for with a sip of beer and simply nodded. He went back to dividing his attention between his phone and the television, “I tell you, I remember reading about Plato and how he thought the ideal society would be governed over by a Philosopher King… I think we should give that a try.” I reached for my glass, but took a deep breath instead.
“It is a popular misunderstanding, but you don’t mean that.”
Looking back surprised that I was able to make noise, “What? Sure I do. I has to be better then this mess.” Extending his smart phone towards the TV.
“What Plato called a Philosopher King thousands of years ago, we would call a brutal dictator today. You see, according to Plato, the Philosopher King would be in charge of all choices to be made in a society. Including people’s diet, the music they listened to, the language they spoke, the jobs they held, who they married and who could reproduce. In fact, I guarantee that every brutal dictator that has existed in our history, between now and when Plato’s writing gained popularity, was inspired by the idea of becoming a Philosopher King.” The business man hid from the rebuke by fingering through messages on his phone. “Although, I do agree with you about the sate of our government.”
“Right?” He says, as though they were the first words out of my mouth.
I take a swig of beer and offer, “You know, the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti once stated that the flaw of an open democracy is that confused people can only elect a confused leader.”
He quickly replies defensively to his phone, “That was my point about the Philosopher King, but you said that was no good.” Looking up from his phone, “So, if neither of those two, if no democracy and no Philosopher King, then what?”
“Well, with me, it gets a little complicated.”
“Somehow, that does not surprise me…. Alright, lay it on me.”
“I believe that democracy is good if it is closed, and used only among knowledgeable participants who are dedicated to the role of leadership.” Raising my glass of beer to my lips and say right before taking a swig, “Thus, I would begin with the Vatican.”
He scoffs, “A theocracy? No way! Never work.”
“No, no, we are talking about governing structures, not theology. And, as a governing structure, the Vatican is a modern institution that has been around longer than anything else. Which, in evolutionary terms, means something. Especially if you were to believe that the Vatican is an adaptation of the Roman Empire.”
Still looking at his phone and take a sip of his drink, “How is that?”
“The two fatal problems of the Roman Empire were nepotism and corruption. The Catholic Church addressed those issues with the vows of chastity and poverty.”
“They didn’t work.”
“No, not completely. But nothing is perfect, and again, the Vatican is still around. Which makes it a good place to start. I think it is the best institutional structure to govern the Industrial Side of our society.”
He looked up at me with confusion.
“If you wish me to continue, you will have to put down your phone and let Ernie turn the volume on TV back down. It gets complicated from here and I have no interest in casting pearls before swine.”
Ernie looked up at the sound of his name and watched expectingly as the man made his choice and nodded to him and raised his empty glass. I finished my beer and put the empty glass in the place that says I am ready for another. After turning the TV down, getting the drinks, Ernie went back to his limes and the man next to me put his phone on the bar.
“Alright… you have my attention.”
“OK… When a forester sets to managing a forest, they begin with the reproduction of the trees in question. All sound management practices in a forest, from harvesting to planting, and even burning, are based on, and revolve around, the physiology, biology, and ecology of the tree’s reproduction. That is how we ensure sustainability. For a society to be sustainable, the governing structure of that society must be the same. It all must revolve around how people reproduce and raise their children.” I take a swig of beer and ask, “With me so far?” and he nods in affirmation. “Good, here is where it gets tricky.
“With animals and insects, there are two reproduction strategies; the Small-Egg Gambit and the Big-Baby Gambit. The Small-Egg Gambit is what spiders do. They put all of their energy and resources into laying ten thousand tiny eggs, and then they walk away from them, leaving the rest up to statistics. Because of the vast numbers of eggs, in the end, on average, two or three spiders survive to reproduce. Alternately, elephants reproduce using the Big-Baby Gambit. They put all of their energy and resources into a small number of larger babies, who they then spend a considerable amount of time and energy nurturing and protecting until they are old enough to reproduce themselves. Ultimately, both paths lead to the same result of producing two or three offspring who reproduce.”
I pause a moment and then remember to ask, “Are you still with me?”
“I believe so. What you are saying is that a society should be structured with respect to how people reproduce.” “Yes.” “And people reproduce by the Big-Baby Gambit and not the Small-Egg Gambit.” “That is correct, but you are getting ahead of me.”
I take a long draw of beer and think a moment. “So, the structure of a beehive evolved from the Small-Egg Gambit. There is only one queen who lays thousands of eggs, and the rest of the beehive spends their lives doing things and working together to protect and nurture those eggs. They can do that only because there is only one egg layer, which makes it very easy for the worker bees to focus on their service to the hive. If the worker bees had eggs of their own to worry about, or if we were to add a second queen into a beehive, the structure would fall apart and a civil war would be fought. In the end, interestingly, despite all of those thousands of bees coming and going, a single queen in a beehive only produces two or three reproducing queens. Which is the same as the spider, or the elephant. So, you see, a beehive is an evolved form of the Small-Egg Gambit, made out of thousands of individuals instead of just one, which I would argue, creates something called an Industrial Structure… not a Social Structure.
“Elephants, however, do not have an Industrial Structure, they have a Social Structure. Like the Industrial Structure of a beehive evolving from single individual using the Small-Egg Gambit, the Social Structure of elephants evolved from individuals using the Big-Baby Gambit. The alpha-male/alpha-female family and community structure is how animals have learned to work together in protecting and nurturing their children. Do you see the difference?”
“Yes,.. But, wait…” He excitedly jumps in. “Doesn’t only the alpha-male reproduce? Isn’t that more like a beehive?”
“Ah. It is true that in some species, the alpha-male is the only one to reproduce. But, the question is, is that a successful adaptation to the Big-Baby Gambit? Or is it simply an expression of power, that, over time, works against those species evolving effectively because it limits diversity.” I take a swig of beer, “Isn’t that what tyranny is? An alpha dominated society that inherently becomes more and more brutal as the alpha fights against evolution in order to maintain the status quo. And, isn’t that what you are upset about? The alpha lawyers insisting that everyone lives according to the perspective of a lawyer.” I take a moment to watch Ernie slice a lime. “The fact of the matter is that humans do not practice alpha only reproduction. And we have evolved faster then all other life on this Earth because of that fact.”
“That is probably an argument for the Philosopher King.”
I Laugh, “There is truth in that. But, I would like to think that we have evolved to the point where we can manage ourselves together, and not be managed by one, or a few, above us. Anyway, no point coming this far without finishing.”
“I would also argue that humans are the only creatures on this planet who have both an Industrial Structure and a Social Structure. The Social Structure comes natural to us as we practice the Big-Baby Gambit. The Industrial Structure has been introduced as a result of our intellect; that is, Plato and his Philosopher King. And, what we see in our history is a battle between the Industrial Structure and the Social Structure. It is an expression of power, of ego and intellect, just like the alpha only reproduction. Over time, the intellect becomes so confident in its own knowledge, that it thinks that it can override what is natural.
“However, to defend our intellect. With each attempt at dominance, each time we build our Industrial Structure up, we get a little further before we take it too far and everything collapses. The problem is that the stronger our Industrial side gets, the weaker and more chaotic our Social side becomes. If we really want it to work, if we really want our Social side to find balance with our Industrial side, we need to accept the fact that our brains are hard wired to put our children first… it is the only thing that makes Big-Baby Gambit work. So, when we elect a leader who has children, they are going to make choices that puts their children first. They might not be aware of it, it probably only seems like common sense to them, but when a choice comes before them they will project their parental bias onto the rest of society. And their parental bias is based on their own experiences with their children as a parent. So, when a rich lawyer makes a choice that affects how the rest of the country raises their children, at least half of the country will always get angry and claim they don’t want to be told how to raise their children… it is no different than putting two queen bees in a single hive.
“The same is true with property. If we allow for our Industrial leaders to own property, they will make every choice from the perspective of their own material needs. Over time, with each generation, that will always turns into excessive greed and protection of wealth. That is how evolution works. Each generation exceeding the previous. It is not that bankers are bad people. They just don’t realize that they are making choices that are best for their children, without being conscious of the fact that their children live in different circumstances from everyone else’s. The very fact that their children’s parents have that kind of power, makes their children’s environment radically different from the average factory worker’s children. Or, another way to put it. The politicians are all rich. They know what is best for rich kids. Unfortunately, ninety-eight percent of the children in this country do not have rich parents.”
I nod his attention to the TV, “We see so much pressure from our leaders, both public and private, to treat the general public like worker bees. The reality is, that if we want our society to grow, we need to treat our leaders like worker bees. That is why I think if a person wants to have children and own property, they cannot have Industrial Authority. If they want authority, they must prove they deserve it… The main reason why the Vatican is still around is because the leaders must prove they are dedicated to the Vatican with their lives. Anyone who achieves a level of authority in the Vatican is completely institutionalized. They cannot live without the system. Thus, they are motivated to make the system work. Whether they are successful or not is a different story. We, in our country, require no proof of commitment from the people we choose to be leaders. In fact, the only proof of commitment the voters ask for is that the candidate look into a camera and say that they will put their constituents first. The obvious result is, that with every election, the candidates become better and better liars.”
He lets out a snort, “That is the truth. So, how will politicians who have no children and no property make them better at making choices for how we want to raise our children?”
“Because we will not ask them to. The Industrial Structure, the Government and Industry Executives, should only be concerned with fixing the roads, delivering the mail, international concerns and business. The rest is for our Social Structure.” I let the moment hang for a bit. “Which I would base on Orthodox Judaism.”
He almost spits up an ice cube that he was chewing on, but before he can say anything.
“Just think about it for a moment. Strip away the religion of it an get down to the simple alpha-male/female structure of it. Certainly we would want to modify things a bit to bring it all up to date, but evolution has made it quiet clear that the community structure of Orthodox Judaism is the most sustainable and effective in our western society. So, if a person wants to feel the sword of authority in their hands, they should have to dedicate their lives to that choice. Declare themselves a bureaucrat when they are young and join the government, which will take them in and nurture them to play the role of bureaucrat… and the price of it is not being able to have children or own property. If a person wants children and/or property, they must accept that they cannot have much authority. The Social Structure would remain highly regionalized and self sustaining. And the Industrial Structure, with it’s institutionalized members, would be very aware that they would not be able to survive in a world where the Social Structure was not happy, free, and effective. There would be two interdependent branches, constantly checking one another, making a sustainable society.”
“But, who would be in charge of health care, and education?”
“Each to their own strength. The Industrial Structure, in their own self interest, would want to provide what the Social Structure needed… buildings and books and such… then it would be up to the Social Structure to make the most of it, and use it according to their needs.”
“So, there would be no standard? That sounds like the stone ages.”
“There is an implied standard. The local community, in it’s desire to survive, will want to remain competitive. There would be some crackpots who decide to ignore science or what not. But evolution will decide their fate. They will die off and leave room for people are better at using the resources provided.”
“Right. So, some innocent child who has stupid parents gets to suffer for their parents bad choices? That is heartless radicalism.”
“I beg your pardon? Is the world not dying under the weight of what only a few people are choosing right now? Do not pretend like you care about other people’s children, because by the Big-Baby Gambit I guarantee that you do not. The only people’s children you really care about are the ones who are within your immediate Social Structure; the families who make it easier for you to protect and nurture your children. Take a moment to think. Do you really want to become the person who tells everyone else how to live and raise their children? Even though you will not suffer someone else telling you how to live and raise yours. The moment you do, they will attack you for it.”
A moment slipped by while I watched the beer swirl in my glass. “If science somehow miraculously developed a serum that ensured everyone who was alive today would live to the age of one-hundred, all life on planet Earth, including the human race, would go extinct in a single generation. People have to die. That is just a hard cold fact. Evolution has a mechanism for this to occur naturally, to all of our benefits. We will not find sustainability until we accept death as a part of our life, and as a part of reproduction as well. Only then will we be able to manage things accordingly for ourselves… with equality.”
I let out a big sigh and allow a moment to let the energy settle. “Equality is not that everyone should get to live to one hundred. Equality is that the moron child of a rich person should have the same life expectancy as the moron child of a poor person. As it stands, there is no equality in this country.”
Dismissively, “This sounds so Libertarian.”
I Laugh. “Oh my goodness no! This is so much worse then that. My idea is to pull the government so far back that people will have the need to depend on each other again, to come out of their isolation and build social structures to survive… and the Industrial Structure, the government, would respect that by remaining aloof.”
“Yep, a radical fantasy.” He picks up his phone.
I get up from my stool, “I can’t disagree with you there. But, the difference between me and Plato, is that my theories are grounded in natural facts.”
The man stops working his thumbs and looks passed his phone for a moment, “Understood.”
I give a nod to the bartender in the universal signal that I was ready for my tab. “Well, it has been a pleasure, but I have a train to catch.” The bartender put a piece of paper in front of me and I leave a bill that covers the tab and the tip, and give the hand signal that tells him that I need no change. He grabs the money and knocks twice on the bar as the old form of ‘thank you’. I give him a nod and he returns it.
I grab my bag and say to the man on my way by, “Thanks for listening, and take care of yourself.”
He barely lifts his head up from his phone and says, “Yeah, you too. See you around.”
On my out I reply loud enough, “Probably not, I’m just passing through.”
And I was out the door and into the quick flow of the street just like that. //